Pursuing a Master’s degree in the UK offers you an opportunity to study in one of the best universities in the world. However, due to the high cost of education in the UK, you may find it difficult to personally finance your study. Luckily, fully-funded scholarships like the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship are available to make your dreams come true.
The Commonwealth Shared Scholarship is one of the seven scholarships offered by the UK Commonwealth Scholarship Commission. This scholarship is awarded yearly to exceptional and goal-oriented graduates from low and middle income Commonwealth countries, who can’t finance their Master’s degree in the UK. The scholarship covers all study costs, including tuition fees, airfare, living allowance, thesis grant, and disability support, if applicable.
Since there isn’t any interview in the application and review process, your success will depend solely on the strength of your application. Hence, your ability to prepare and submit a winning application is the key factor when applying for a Commonwealth Shared Scholarship. Before we take an in-depth look at how to prepare and complete your application form, let’s ensure you’re eligible to apply. Note that applications for the 2022/2023 academic session are now open, and will close on 20 December 2021. You can apply here.
The criteria you must fulfil to be eligible for this scholarship are:
- Be a citizen of and be permanently resident in an eligible Commonwealth country
- Be available to commence your study in the UK in September 2022
- Have a Bachelor’s degree of second-class (2:1) upper division or above by September 2022.
- Not have studied or worked for one year or more in a high-income country
- Be unable to fund your study in a UK university without the scholarship
- Have all supporting documents in the required format
How to prepare a winning application for your Commonwealth Shared Scholarship
All applications will be accessed based on the academic merit of the candidate, quality of the plan of study, and potential impact on the development of the candidate’s home country. Hence, you’ll not only need to be academically qualified, you’ll also need to demonstrate a well-thought-out plan for your study in the UK, and give comprehensive information on how you’ll contribute to the development of your country under your chosen CSC development theme.
Important tips on preparing a winning application include:
- Apply to an eligible UK university for a course that strongly fits your academic background, work experience, and future career goals:
Since the initial selection process will be done by each participating UK university, you’ll need to convince the university that you have the solid academic background and work experience to successfully complete your study and accomplish your career goals. Only apply for courses whose benefits you can confidently define, as it relates to your goals and contribution to your home country. Note that although you can apply to more than one university, you can only claim one scholarship.
- Ensure that your personal statement is authentic and compelling; don’t forget to promote yourself!
You’ll need to provide a personal statement within a 500 words limit. This is your opportunity to distinguish yourself from other applicants. Provide detailed information on how your personal background has propelled you to want to positively influence your home country. Talk about how you’ve overcome personal or communal obstacles, and how you’re already contributing to your home country. Write from a place of deep conviction; if you can’t convince yourself, how much more a team of world-class reviewers! Promote yourself; talk about your strength in adversity and motivations. Also, make sure that your essay is cohesive and well-edited.
- Carefully write your development impact statement to show your comprehensive and measurable future contribution to your home country:
You’ll be asked to write a development impact statement in 4 parts:
- How your study is related to a development problem in your country, as it relates to your chosen CSC development theme (200 words).
- How your acquired skills will be used after your study (100 words).
- A detailed outline of the development changes you’ll make in your country; the impact, timeframe and who the specific beneficiaries will be (250 words).
- How you’ll be able to measure your impact (100 words).
I have outlined this section because this is one of the most important sections in your application form. It’ll significantly determine the outcome of your application. So, you need to have a clear vision of how you’ll make a change in your home country when you return. Write actionable goals based on facts. A good way to go about this is to research what the UK is already doing in your country as it relates to your chosen development theme. Then, write a clear plan on how you can also contribute significantly in this area.
- Ensure that all your supporting documents are ready ahead of time:
You’ll be required to submit your proof of citizenship (your passport or national identification card) and your full transcript. It’s necessary that you apply early for these documents to avoid any delay in your application. You’ll need to also submit a certified translation for your transcript if it’s not in English.
- Choose your referees carefully:
You’ll be asked to list 3 referees in your application form; one of whom must be your current employer. It’s necessary that you choose people, preferably professors from your university, who can confidently write about your ability to successfully complete your study in the UK and contribute significantly to your home country. Speak to them early, and follow-up to avoid any delay.
- Get a third-party review, preferably from a previous scholar:
Because of the highly competitive nature of the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship, you’ll need to ensure that you’re submitting the best possible application you can. A good way to achieve this is to get a third-party to review your application and give you feedback. You can compare your application to that of a previous scholar (if possible) and get ideas on how to improve yours. The whole idea is to ensure that your application is cohesive and professional.
Having read this article, you’re now prepared to confidently apply for a Commonwealth Shared Scholarship. You can get more information from the official website. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below. All the best!